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  • Writer's pictureHeather Simmons

For my Madre. For all madres.

First she was my mommy. Then she became momma, and at some point during college she became mia Madre. You can thank my sister's obsession with Italian for that. Most friends started referring to their mothers by their given names: Beth, Mary Lil, Melinda, Bonnie. It was a sign that we were all adults and no longer in need of childish references. My sister and I simply switched languages. It's fine.

Regardless of her title, my mom is hands down the most angelic, selfless, optimistic, caring, and generous person I know. She's also the most ingenious and resourceful woman I know. She's the MacGyver of domesticity. Do you need a Halloween costume by tomorrow morning? She'll turn you into a cat with nothing more than toothpicks and a pair of pantyhose. Shutters in disarray and gutters sagging? Give her a hammer and a can of paint and voila! they're like new. And she probably bought the can of paint on sale for 99 cents, so there's that. She somehow stretched groceries out for weeks. Chicken was served roasted one night, then in a pot pie the next, as chicken salad in our lunches the following day, and then in some sort of casserole the day after. It was all so yummy that we didn't even notice. And don't get me started on time management: the woman worked a 40-hour week and somehow managed to be room mom, team mom, PTA Secretary, softball and dance taxi, personal shopper and cook and maid. I'm exhausted just making this list.

There are so many beautiful characteristics that I could list about my endearing Madre, but one of my favorites is her sense of creativity. Both of my parents are creative, but my mother has a knack for incorporating it into even the most mundane chores. She finds deep joy in making beautiful things that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional. Before we started making kid art, our Christmas tree was decorated with cross stitched nativity scenes and Christmas-y things in the most beautiful pairing of crimson and cream. She made one of my very first dolls, complete with a little sidekick puppy. Flower arrangements were always on the dining table, fresh from the backyard garden. Making art wasn't a hobby, it was her lifestyle. She had the ability to make everything just a little shinier, a little more special.

This easy way of making art has always been something I've been intentional about emulating, so it's no surprise that I named my first needlework series after her. She taught me everything I know about needlework, and I'm satisfied with how I've grown as an artist by taking her technique and making it abstractly my own. I am humbled to have her as my very first teacher, and proud to call her my friend. I love you, Madre.

I've got one little special thing to share before I wrap this up. My very best friend Erica moved clear across the country last August, taking only what could fit in her car. As we completed the process of purging all the non-essentials, she looked at her mother's embroidery box and her eyes welled up with tears. "I can't take it with me", she said. "I don't sew. But that box reminds me of all the embroidery projects my mother used to do when I was a child. I just can't get rid of it." I bought it from her right there and then, promising to take care of it and not let it go to waste.

Every stitch of embroidery thread in the Madre series comes from that box. I think about Bonnie every time I start a new pillow or hoop, praying for her continued happiness and health in Virginia. She is one of the fiercest women I know, who has overcome insurmountable obstacles with the faith of Peter. That woman has faith. Like "let me out of this boat and on top of that water with Jesus" faith. I'm in awe of her. She has always encouraged Erica's pursuit of art, of ministry, of life in general. She is her number one cheerleader and her number one advocate. She is responsible for the very best things in my very best friend. I love you, Bon Bon.

Every good mother puts color into our lives. She threads together our story, weaving in goodness and grace and love, and shapes us into what we are today. Our mothers form our fabric, our tapestry. So this Madre series is not only for my Madre, but for all madres. I'll do my best to take care of it, and I promise I won't waste it.

Happy Mother's Day,


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